Published: Dec. 6, 2017
student under a tree

The right amount of stress can keep you motivated and working hard, but too much of it takes a toll on your wellbeing. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, especially during finals and the holidays.

Here’s a quick guide to getting things under control this week.

Time management

One source of stress can be feeling like there’s just too much to get done and not enough time to do it all. Start by writing it all out—every upcoming assignment and their due dates—and plan your time backwards, prioritizing based on those deadlines.

Jot down exactly when everything will get done, and commit to the schedule. Preparing in advance may not create more time, but it can help you visualize exactly where all your time is and how to best use it. Ready to get started? Download the ultimate to-do list and organizer app Wunderlist, free on iOS and Android.

Keeping up with the basics

Our minds and bodies work best when we take care of them. Set reminders on your phone to drink a full water bottle every few hours, pack plenty of healthy snacks before hitting the library, plan for at least seven hours of sleep per night and don’t be afraid to work in a 20-minute power nap here and there, too.

Habitbull is a free app for tracking good habits that also rewards you for meeting goals. Or, if sleep is a bigger obstacle, try out Relax Melodies for soothing sounds to shut your mind off before bed.

Study breaks

Research has shown that studying endlessly can be more harmful than helpful. Instead, try this proven study cycle: Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on the task at hand. Afterward, take a five-minute break to walk around, talk to a friend or check Instagram. Repeat the cycle three more times, then take a 30-minute break to refresh.

Checking expectations

Stress feeds off of unrealistic expectations and pressure. It’s important you check in with yourself periodically about where your expectations are coming from; if you're adding on pressure to be perfect, that may hinder your ability to actually perform well. Talking to a friend about this pressure can offer some perspective and help you let go of things that may not be worth your mental energy. 

Relaxing and recuperating

Finding ways to channel your stress keeps you balanced enough to handle the next stressor that comes your way. Some self-care activities include watching an episode on Netflix, getting in whatever physical activity you enjoy, spending time in nature and catching up with a friend. Meditation is also helpful.

Need help? Try the apps Breathe2Relax and Stop, Breathe, and Think.

The Healthy Buffs series is brought to you by Wardenburg Health Services. Visit us online at www.colorado.edu/health.